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“Transmedia” has become the new buzzword for multi-platform narratives, but in the digital age, transmedia isn’t just how we consume entertainment narratives, it’s how we experience the narrative of our lives.
A prior version of this
presentation was created for a panel event at the FutureM conference in Boston on October 7th,YOUR 2010, featuring Jenka Gurﬁnkel, Marta Kagan, & Jan Libby.LIFE IS ATRANSMEDIAEXPERIENCE
CastleThe ABC show, Castle, follows
ﬁctional mystery writerRichard Caste, and his unlikely partner and literary muse,NYPD detective, Kate Beckett, as they solve Manhattanmurders. Castle’s novel, Heat Wave – named for itsprotagonist, NYPD detective Nikki Heat – was pennedduring the show’s ﬁrst season, and released both as aplot point in the course of the show’s story arc…
…And, simultaneously, as a real-life
book published by Hyperion. The hardcover even made it onto the New York Times Bestseller list! The author? Richard Castle, of course. Naked Heat, the second installment in the Nikki Heat series, written during Castle’s summer in the Hamptons (aka the show’s second season hiatus), was released in September 2010.Photo: Fannish on Flickr
When characters from the hit
AMC show Mad Men, ﬁrst appeared onMad Twitter and began interacting with fans and one another, these unauthorized, fan-created proﬁles sparked major controversy with the network. But AMC quickly recognized the value in allowing its most iconicMen characters to live, breathe, and tweet, alongside the show’s fans. Now, character Twitter accounts are quickly becoming a natural standard for character-driven entertainment. Or here…
TrueBloodThe premise behindHBO’s True Blood
isthat the invention ofa synthetic-blood drinkhas allowed vampiresto “come out of thecoﬃn,” and live openlyamong humans. Topromote the seriespremiere, ads for thenew Tru:Blood beveragebrand began popping upin billboards andmagazines all over thecountry, bringing a keypart of show’s fantasticalstory into reality. Photo: iMalkah on Flickr
During True Blood’s thirdseason, the
show’sMillennial vampire evenstarted her own blog,babyvamp-jessica.com,where she posts text andvideo updates on thelatest goings-on in her“life”, undead lifestyleadvice, and the generalmeandering thoughts ofyour typical, newlyimmortal 17-year old girl.
Burger KingWhen Burger King revamped
TheKing character as a sarcasticmischief-maker he became morethan just a brand mascot. The KingHalloween masks sold out the ﬁrstyear they were available. Someeven ended up auctioned oﬀ oneBay for hundreds of dollars. TheKing has since appeared as a handpuppet, a Simpsons character –complete with four ﬁngers, yellowskin, and an overbite – and evenbecome an avatar in his own Xboxvideogame. YouTube Videoscreated by and starring fansdressed as The King (masks, andall), engaged in the eternal battlewith Ronald McDonald, have beenviewed millions of times.
KnorrTo help tell the story
of Knorr’s Sidekicks brandmeal accompaniments, they created an adorablelittle character named Salty. This sadface saltshakeris constantly getting left out because Sidekicks are25% reduced sodium. But while Salty can nevercatch a break, Knorr sure has. Salty’s fans onFacebook and Twitter have helped sell out 18,000real-life Salty toys and used them to create theirown videos and photo-shoots with Salty as thestar. The melancholy saltshaker has helpedSidekicks sales go up 10%, and led Knorr tobecome the category leader.
Old SpiceWhat began as a
Super Bowl ad featuring ahilariously suave caricature of, literally, The ManYour Man Could Smell Like, became a bona ﬁdepop culture sensation. The campaign’s narrativeevolved into 186 personalized, real-time videoresponses from the Old Spice Guy to hisTwitter fans. He even made animpromptu appearance in theﬂesh at the San Diego ComicCon. By the end of thesummer, Old Spice hadbecome the all-timemost-viewed sponsoredchannel on YouTube, anddoubled their sales.
“ The marvels of communication
technology in the present have produced a false consciousness about the past—even a sense that communication has no history, or had nothing of importance to consider before the days of television and the Internet.” - Robert Darnton, historian
17,000 YEARS AGO…Lascaux Cave in
Frances Dordogne River Valley containsarguably the worlds most incredible array of Upper Paleolithicart. Prehistoric artists created some 600 depictions of bulls andother animals on the cave’s calcite walls, around 15,000 BC. Theearliest known Egyptian Hieroglyphics would not appear untilmore than 12,000 years later. Some theories about Lascauxargue that the painting is a narrative, describing an event thattook place in life or in a dream.Photo: National Geographic
THEORIGINALMASSMEDIA…Most ancient cultures saw picturesin
the stars of the night sky. Theearliest known eﬀorts to cataloguethe stars date back roughly 6,000years. By the 5th century B.C., mostof the constellations had come tobe associated with myths. To theAncient Greeks, the constellationswere characters from theirmythology, placed among the starsas a reward from the gods.
THE And involved every medium
we’ve had available.WEATHERCHANNELLikewise, the Ancient Greeks heardthunder and believed it to beZeus’s thunderbolt. They might nothave had TV, or the Internet, butthey had weather, an incrediblyeﬀective and dynamic medium forspinning stories. (Weatherforecasters are still doing it today).
These articles can stillbe found
on the HarvardCrimson website. They notonly document key eventsin Mark Zuckerberg’s brief buteventful college career, theyalso serve as instrumentaldevices in the ﬁlm’s plotline, aswell as that of The AccidentalBillionaires, the book on whichthe movie is based.
And then there is the
actual creation at the heart of The SocialNetwork, a website which more than 500 million of us personallyinteract with; which now accounts for one out of every fourpageviews in the U.S. — that’s 10% of all Internet visits.Photo: Tully Wully Chully Mully on Flickr